In the tropical forests of South and Central America, many mammals climb the trees. There are different felines, like jaguars and ocelots, as well as animals related to racoons, called kinkajous, olingos and coatis, as well as anteaters and porcupines with prehensile tails, to mention just a few.

In Asia and Africa, many monkeys live in the trees, although some, baboons for instance, prefer to remain on the ground. In the tropical forests of the New World, all the monkeys are tree dwellers, and very rarely come down to the ground.

Sloths are also tree-dwelling mammals, but look and act quite differently from monkeys. They live only in tropical climates in the Americas. They can be hard to spot, too, since they spend 15 to 18 hours a day sleeping.
In the tropical forests of South and Central America, many mammals climb the trees. There are different felines, like jaguars and ocelots, as well as animals related to racoons, called kinkajous, olingos and coatis, as well as anteaters and porcupines with prehensile tails, to mention just a few.

In Asia and Africa, many monkeys live in the trees, although some, baboons for instance, prefer to remain on the ground. In the tropical forests of the New World, all the monkeys are tree dwellers, and very rarely come down to the ground.

Sloths are also tree-dwelling mammals, but look and act quite differently from monkeys. They live only in tropical climates in the Americas. They can be hard to spot, too, since they spend 15 to 18 hours a day sleeping.

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Cotton-top tamarin at the Biodôme

Cotton-top tamarin at the Biodôme

Biodôme de Montréal

© Biodôme de Montréal, 2005. All rights reserved


Sloth at the Biodôme

Sloth at the Biodôme

Biodôme de Montréal

© Biodôme de Montréal, 2005. All rights reserved


Main characteristics:

Relatively large brain. Seven cervical vertebrae. 32 or 36 teeth. Teeth appear in two stages: baby teeth are replaced by permanent teeth. Forward-facing eye sockets, for binocular vision. Better sense of sight than smell. Five fingers on each hand and five toes on each foot. Able to grasp objects or hang onto branches with hands or feet. Many monkeys in the American tropics have prehensile tails, which they use as a fifth limb. Many monkeys have thumbs opposed to their other digits. Flat fingernails and toenails rather than claws, in most cases. Constant body temperature. Diurnal, except for one species, the douroucouli (Aotus trivirgatus) 145 known species of monkeys.
Main characteristics:

  • Relatively large brain.
  • Seven cervical vertebrae.
  • 32 or 36 teeth.
  • Teeth appear in two stages: baby teeth are replaced by permanent teeth.
  • Forward-facing eye sockets, for binocular vision.
  • Better sense of sight than smell.
  • Five fingers on each hand and five toes on each foot.
  • Able to grasp objects or hang onto branches with hands or feet.
  • Many monkeys in the American tropics have prehensile tails, which they use as a fifth limb.
  • Many monkeys have thumbs opposed to their other digits.
  • Flat fingernails and toenails rather than claws, in most cases.
  • Constant body temperature.
  • Diurnal, except for one species, the douroucouli (Aotus trivirgatus)
  • 145 known species of monkeys.

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Skull, Hand and Foot of a Tamarin

Skull, Hand and Foot of a Tamarin

Biodôme de Montréal

© Biodôme de Montréal, 2005. All rights reserved


Monkeys worldwide

Platyrhines
Monkeys of the American tropics.
Catarhines
Monkeys of Africa and Asia.

Biodôme de Montréal

© Biodôme de Montréal, 2005. All rights reserved


Spider Monkey

Platyrhines
Noses with broad nostrils, pointed to the sides.
Often with prehensile tails.

Biodôme de Montréal

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Orang-outang

Catarhines
Noses with close-set nostrils, pointed downward.
Tails are never prehensile.
Humans are also members of this group.

Biodôme de Montréal

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Main characteristics:

Primitive brain. 18 teeth, which never stop growing. Weak vision. Better sense of smell than sight. Able to retract its eyes into its sockets. Two toes (two species of sloths) or three toes (four species) on the front feet and always three toes on the hind feet. Long curved claws on the front and hind toes. Arms one and one-half times as long as its legs. Two-toed sloths have no tail. Three-toed sloths have a short tail. Six to nine cervical vertebrae. Body temperature ranges from 24 to 33°C. Two-toed sloths are nocturnal. Three-toed sloths are diurnal and nocturnal. Six known species.
Main characteristics:

  • Primitive brain.
  • 18 teeth, which never stop growing.
  • Weak vision.
  • Better sense of smell than sight.
  • Able to retract its eyes into its sockets.
  • Two toes (two species of sloths) or three toes (four species) on the front feet and always three toes on the hind feet.
  • Long curved claws on the front and hind toes.
  • Arms one and one-half times as long as its legs.
  • Two-toed sloths have no tail.
  • Three-toed sloths have a short tail.
  • Six to nine cervical vertebrae.
  • Body temperature ranges from 24 to 33°C.
  • Two-toed sloths are nocturnal.
  • Three-toed sloths are diurnal and nocturnal.
  • Six known species.

© Biodôme de Montréal, 2005. All rights reserved

Skull and Hand of a Sloth

Skull and Hand of a Sloth

Biodôme de Montréal

© Biodôme de Montréal, 2005. All rights reserved


They live in the Central and South American tropical rainforest, from southern Honduras to northern Argentina.

There are six species of sloths, belonging to two families.

Family : Megalonychidae
Two species of two-toed sloths Family : Bradypodidae
Four species of three-toed sloths.
They live in the Central and South American tropical rainforest, from southern Honduras to northern Argentina.

There are six species of sloths, belonging to two families.

Family : Megalonychidae
  • Two species of two-toed sloths
Family : Bradypodidae
  • Four species of three-toed sloths.

© Biodôme de Montréal, 2005. All rights reserved

Hoffmann's two-toed sloth

Family : Megalonychidae
A two-toed sloth

Biodôme de Montréal

© Biodôme de Montréal, 2005. All rights reserved


Brown-throated three-toed sloth

Family : Bradypodidae
A three-toed sloth.

Biodôme de Montréal

© Biodôme de Montréal, 2005. All rights reserved


Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • Learn more about the ecosystems in the Americas;
  • Observe the diversity that each ecosystem offers regarding the flora, fauna as well as climate;
  • Identify the elements that shape different ecosystems, such as vegetation, wildlife, soil, etc.;
  • Develop different causes and consequences of human actions on ecosystems (from grade 4);
  • Formulate and justify possible solutions on issues, such as global warming, in order to preserve our ecosystems and biodiversity on Earth (from grade 6).

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